Fifth Gen Fighters Plan Integration

Commanders of operational F-22 Raptor wings and leaders of the emerging F-35A Lightning II units met at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., to discuss joint training, maintenance, manpower, and strategies to help integrate the F-35s into the joint team. Col. Pete Fesler, 1st Fighter Wing commander, said the two aircraft have “incredible capability” and were designed to work together. Although the F-35As were designed primarily for the air-to-ground mission and the F-22 for the air-to-air fight, they will bring “complementary capabilities to assist each other in either role,” Fesler said in an Air Combat Command release. “Together they are a team that is optimized to go after an air threat and a surface threat simultaneously.” The F-22 community plans to share its decade of fifth-gen experience with the F-35As, which are expected to achieve initial operational capability in August. Maintenance was considered a key area for shared experience. The integration planning started 20 months ago when four F-22s deployed to Eglin AFB, Fla., to conduct introductory training missions with F-35s from the 33rd FW.